A few days after Valentine's Day, Junior's Dad's best friend Eugene is shot in the face in a fight over a bottle of wine. His death comes right on the heels of the passing of Junior's Grandmother. To deal with their grief, Junior's Dad goes on a drinking binge, and his Mom goes to church. To Junior, everything on the reservation seems to be about "booze and God, booze and God", and he feels helpless and stupid, and angry, especially at God.
Gordy shows Junior a book written by Euripides, from the play Medea. Junior is especially impressed by a line that says, "What greater grief than the loss of one's native land?" Junior realizes that this is what has happened to the Indians. They have LOST EVERYTHING...(their) native land...languages...songs and dances...each other". Junior reads on that Medea was so distraught that she "murdered her own kids", and he understands how she could have felt that way.
After missing fifteen or twenty days of school, Junior returns to Reardan, where his social studies teacher mocks him for all his absences. Junior is too broken to fight back, but his classmates are furious for him. Beginning with Gordy, they stand up one by one, drop their textbooks on the floor, and walk out in protest. Despite the fact that they leave him behind in the classroom, Junior is buoyed by their support. Before, he had believed that the world was divided by race, or by culture, but now he knows there are only "two tribes...the people who are assholes and the people who are not".
Junior begins to make lists, looking for "the little pieces of joy in (his) life". This becomes his "grieving ceremony" (Chapter 24).